History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 4, Rock & Roll

Sgt PepperHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: PART 4, ROCK & ROLL

It was fifty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile

It was indeed 50 years ago today that The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the U.S. on June 2, 1967. It was released in the U.K. the day before.

No other album defined the soundtrack of the Summer of Love better than Sgt. Pepper. It captured the fantasy, psychedelics, love, and drugs of 1967. Especially with the last song “A Day In The Life” which urged “I’d love to turn you on.”

In 1967 I was on a school field trip to San Francisco. Directly across the street from Ghirardelli Square was a record store where I bought my copy of Sgt. Pepper. It felt almost scandalous to bring it home to my small town because “everyone knows it’s all about drugs,” or so people thought. I did now know it at the time but that was not entirely incorrect, as we’ll see.

Last week the six-disc boxed set 50th Anniversary (Remix) Edition of Sgt. Pepper was released by Giles Martin, the son of the original Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin.

In this, the last article in the series on the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love I’ll discuss the significance of Sgt. Pepper as it kicked off that iconic summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. [click to continue…]

History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 3, Drugs

Keep on TruckinHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: DRUGS

When I was a Resident Assistant at Berkeley in the early ’70s a local police officer I knew gave me a tour down Telegraph Avenue. He told me:

“All the major drug deals on the West Coast go down within a two block stretch of Telegraph Avenue. The dealers and streetpeople are what’s left of the flower children.”

All this was within blocks of the nearby University of California campus. To say that drugs were rampant at Berkeley is an understatement: as an RA, I was called upon to take students who were too high on marijuana or LSD down to the Student Health Center. My saddest duty was checking out the room of a student who had committed suicide. On his wall were comic-strip blotters of LSD.

Berkeley, the counterpart foci of Haight-Ashbury, on the ellipse of the San Francisco Bay, reflected the tone and mood of the Summer of Love. In this third article on this period from 50 years ago, I discuss the drugs topic of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Berkeley was the West Coast hub of drugs, as Boston was the East Coast hub. Drugs were shipped into Vallejo, a port town 30 minutes north of Berkeley. Michael Crichton popularized the Berkeley drug trade in his 1970 novel — written under the pseudonym Michael Douglas along with his 19-year old brother Douglas — called Dealing: Or the Berkely-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues. [click to continue…]

History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 2, Sex

Make Love Not WarHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: PART 2, SEX

“Make love, not war” and the call for “free love” represented a cultural shift in mores. Even The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love.” If the ‘60s was the time of the “sexual revolution” the natural question is: who won? There were both winners and losers. In our first article on the Summer of Love, we talked about the general environment of 1967. In this article we’ll discuss the role of sex in “sex, drugs, and rock & roll.”

The Boom

More babies were born in the western world between 1946 and 1964 than during any previous period in recorded history. In the U.S. this post-war “bloom” of children was called the Baby Boom Generation and represented a relatively prosperous generation of children born to a middle class with more access to education and entertainment than any generation before it. In 1966, Time magazine declared that “the Generation 25 and Under” would be its “Persons of the Year.”

In the US the G.I. Bill allowed veterans to go to college and provide for their children better than the previous generation. The Interstate Highway system, inaugurated by President Eisenhower after WWII — for the purpose of easily and quickly transporting troops across the country — had the effect of allowing suburban living and commuting into urban centers for work, augmented with low-cost mortgages. The children of these war veterans enjoyed an unusually well-off life of freedom — thanks to the way new mothers took the teachings of a permissive pediatrician writer Dr. Spock — and relative affluence and the leisure that came with it.

Studies have shown that, between 1965 and 1974, the number of women that had sexual intercourse prior to marriage showed a marked increase. Women had become active participants in the sexual revolution. [click to continue…]

History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

Summer of LoveHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: SEX, DRUGS, AND ROCK & ROLL

The Summer of Love was fifty years ago, the summer of 1967, with its epicenter in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It was a summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Both San Francisco and Liverpool will be celebrating it this summer. While not limited to San Francisco — New York and London were involved — no other city but San Francisco attracted almost 100,000 young people who converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. This mood was captured at the time by the hit single by Scott McKenzie “San Francisco” with its lyric “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” It was a unique time, just one summer. Ironically, the song was written by John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas to promote that the June 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival.

Haight AshburyIn the next year both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr would be assassinated. Woodstock was still two years away. But at the time there had never been anything quite like it. I recall my father driving through Haight-Ashbury at the time saying “Look at that!” with carnival-like amusement, baffled by the hair and clothes. By the end of 1967 many of the hippies and San Franciscan musicians from the Summer of Love had moved on. In its wake was street people, drug addiction, and panhandling. But let’s look at that one brief shining moment in history. [click to continue…]

Memorial Day: Why We Fight

John Petro

John Petro

MEMORIAL DAY: WHY WE FIGHT

The world is different than it was even a decade and a half ago as we celebrate Memorial Day. We have troops in countries now that we didn’t have then, and after 9/11 we now remember why we fight. The History Channel often re-runs the HBO series Band of Brothers, the adaptation of the Stephen Ambrose book about a company of soldiers from the landing at Normandy through the end of the World War II.

Band of Brothers

During WWII my father crossed paths with the Company E mentioned in “Band of Brothers” while liberating the Dachau Concentration Camp.

My father’s story was originally told in part on HBO’s website during the 2001 premier, regarding the episode entitled “Why We Fight” on the liberation of Dachau and its many subcamps.

[click to continue…]

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